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14th British Columbia Paleontological Symposium 2023 Victoria

The British Columbia Paleontological Alliance (BCPA), the Victoria Palaeontology Society (VicPS), the Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM), BC Heritage Branch and the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences (SEOS), University of Victoria (UVic) are together pleased to announce:

This Symposium is for professional and avocational individuals in the field of paleontology to present and/or hear the latest news and breakthroughs in paleontology within British Columbia and beyond.

While this scientific symposium caters to professional and avocational individuals, others interested in detailed scientific research presentations are welcome to register. This site will be updated as details are confirmed; please check back often.

  the 14th British Columbia Paleontological Symposium
June 9-12, 2023
Bob Wright Centre
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC, Canada
  On the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples, the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ, whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.  







The preliminary schedule, below, will be refined as abstracts are received, registration numbers confirmed, and activities finalized. Check back often for updates.

Day 1  
Fri., June 98:00–9:00 amCheck in & Poster Displays
 9:00–12:00 pmWorkshops & Tours (# and topics to be determined)
 1:00–3:00 pmWorkshops & Tours (# and topics to be determined)
 5:00–7:00 pmCheck in & Poster Displays
 7:00–9:00 pmEvening Social Event
Day 2  
Sat., June 108:00–9:00 amCheck-in, Poster Displays
 9:00–10:15 amPresentations
 10:15–10:30 amBreak, Poster Displays
 10:30–12:00 pmPresentations
 12:00–1:30 pmLunch (on-site, or off-site, to be determined)
 1:30–2:45 pmPresentations
 2:45–3:15 pmBreak, Poster Displays
 3:15–4:00 pmPresentations
 6:00 pmDinner (plus awards and recognition)
Day 3  
Sun. Jun 118:00–9:00 amPoster Displays
 9:00–10:15 amPresentations
 10:15–10:30 amBreak, Poster Displays
 10:30–12:00 pmPresentations
 12:00–1:30 pmLunch (on-site to encourage interaction and viewing of posters)
 1:30–2:45 pmPresentations
 2:45–3:15 pmBreak, Poster Displays
 3:15–4:00 pmPresentations
Day 4  
Mon., June 128:00–9:00 amField Trip departure time and location of fieldtrips to be determined
Keynote Speakers

The Burgess Shale Fossil Deposit of Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park: Retrospective of the Last 10 Years of Research

In Southeastern BC, the Burgess Shale is the internationally renowned site that keeps on giving.  Symposium 2023 welcomes you on a journey through the past decade, featuring the field research and expertise of:

Dr. Jean-Bernard Caron, Richard M. Ivey Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Dr. Caron leads regular fieldwork activities to the Canadian Rockies primarily to study how the Burgess Shale biota changed through space and time in response to ecological, evolutionary and environmental factors. Field-based research is an important aspect of his work and his research lab primarily focuses on fossilization processes, ecology, phylogeny, and diversity of Burgess Shale animals.

Tracking vertebrates from two eras on two continents

Northern BC is home to our second keynote speaker, Dr. Charles Helm, who is trekking two continents in search of tracks. 

Dr. Charles Helm, Research Associate at the Tumbler Ridge Museum and at the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa is currently pursuing his PhD in paleontology in the Department of Geoscience, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa.

His paleontological research interests are in Pleistocene vertebrate tracks in South Africa (including hominin tracks and traces) and Cretaceous vertebrate tracks in northern British Columbia.  Many of you will know Dr. Helm as founder of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation in 2002. He developed the proposal that led to the creation of the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark in 2014, and was its first President.

Times and dates for keynotes will be confirmed as the schedule comes together.

Posters & Presentations

Here are the abstracts for presentations and posters submitted to date. We thank those people who have contributed their research and findings, and look forward to seeing and hearing from them at the symposium.

Abstract TitleTopicAuthor(s)Formatkeywords
Carmanah Group Strata and Fossils: West Coast Vancouver Island, B.C.paleontology within BCMarji Johns | W.R. Michael MakahnoukPresentationcarmanah group, west coast vancouver island, fossil stewardship, responsible collecting
Updates from the BC Fossil Management Office, Heritage Branchpaleontology within BCElisabeth DeomPresentationHeritage Branch, BC Fossil Management Framework, Fossil Management Office, collaboration
Exploring the fossil data from the largest and longest international Earth science collaborationpaleontology outside of BCAndrew J. Fraass | Katie Jamson | Andrew McCoy | Jocelyn Sessa | Leah LeVay | Shanan PetersPresentationMicropaleontology, paleoceanography
A diverse Oligocene whale assemblage from the Sooke Formation (Carmanah Group) of southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canadavertebrate paleontology within BCElizabeth C Rohlicek | Victoria M ArbourPresentationCetaceans, Oligocene, Vancouver Island
On a piece of phosphate: Early Paleozoic Laurentian conodont and isotope data for interpreting tectonic-ocean-climate changes and eventspaleontology outside of BCChristopher R. BarnesPresentationEarly Paleozoic, conodonts, isotopes, Laurentia, tectonic-ocean-climate changes and events
Nature’s rainbow: A new look at Cretaceous fossils from precious opal deposits at Lightning Ridge, Australia.paleontology outside of BCGeorge Mustoe | Dr. Elizabeth SmithPresentationLightning Ridge, Australia, opal, Cretaceous, fossils, paleobotany, vertebrate paleontology
Fossils From the Upper Cretaceous Wapiti Formation of Alberta and British Columbiapaleontology outside of BCCorwin Sullivan | Charles W. Helm | Emily L. Bamforth | Victoria M. Arbour | Derek W. LarsonPresentationWapiti Formation, Campanian, Maastrichtian, Cretaceous, DC Bonebed, Kleskun Hill, Bearpaw Gap
A new helochelydrid turtle (Helochelydridae; Testudinata) from the Late Cretaceous of British Columbia, Canadavertebrate paleontology within BCDerek W. Larson | Matthew J. Vavrek | Donald B. Brinkman | Joe MorinPresentationNanaimo Group, turtles, Vancouver Island, Cretaceous
An ankylosaur femur from the Cenomanian Dunvegan Formation of northeastern British Columbiavertebrate paleontology within BCEmily G. Cross | Victoria M. ArbourPresentationAnkylosaur, Dunvegan Formation, Cenomanian
A new mosasaurine (Squamata: Mosasauroidea) from the Pierre Formation (Pembina Member: Campanian) of North Dakotapaleontology outside of BCAmelia Zietlow | Clint Boyd | Nathan Van VrankenPresentationmosasaur, lizard, mosasaurine, vertebrate, taxonomy
Rocks are Time-tellers: A Bad Sociology of Fossils and BC’s Burgess Shaleinvertebrate paleontology within BCRebecca YoshizawaPresentationBurgess Shale, sociology, Anthropocene
Canada’s Most Complete Merycoidodon Fossilvertebrate paleontology within BCAndrea K. Valcourt | Victoria M. ArbourPresentationMerycoidodontidae, Merycoidodon, skull, jaw, Flathead River, Kishenehn Formation, Kishenehn, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Mammal, tooth, teeth, Merycoidodon culbertsoni, Merycoidodon major
A solenostelic fern from the Appian Way locality, Vancouver Island, B.C.paleobotany within BCRuth A. Stockey | Gar W. Rothwell | Graham BeardPresentationsolenostelic fern, Appian Way locality, late Paleocene, early Eocene, solenostelic rhizome, Dipteridaceae, Dipteris lobbiana
Early Cretaceous herbaceous lycophytes of the Lycopodiales and Selaginellales in the Apple Bay assemblage of Vancouver Island, B.C.paleobotany within BCGar W. Rothwell | Ruth A. StockeyPresentationCretaceous, herbaceous, lycophytes, Lycopodiales, Selaginellales, Apple Bay, Holbert Inlet
Tridactyl footprints from the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous Mist Mountain Formation of southeastern British Columbiavertebrate paleontology within BCLogan Teague Dickson | Victoria ArbourPosterichnology, morphometrics
Hainosaurus boubker, Last of the Great Tylosaurs: First Record of a Tylosaurine Mosasaur from the Latest Cretaceous Phosphates of Moroccopaleontology outside of BCBrennan MartensPosterMosasaur, New Species, Morocco, Paleontology, Fossils, Cretaceous
Latest Triassic (Rhaetian) ichthyosaur material from the Pardonet Formation near Williston Lake, British Columbiavertebrate paleontology within BCBrady McBride | Jerry Lei | John-Paul Zonneveld | Andrew Caruthers | Victoria ArbourPosterTriassic, Ichthyosauria
Searching for dinosaurs on the Spatsizi Plateau of northern British Columbiavertebrate paleontology within BCVictoria M. Arbour | Derek Larson | Thomas Cullen | Jaclyn Richmond | Brady McBridePresentationDinosauria, Cretaceous
First Record of an Oligocene Chimaeroid Fish (Chondrichthyes, Holocephali, Chimaeriformes) Egg Capsule from Carmanah Group Rocks, West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canadavertebrate paleontology within BCMarji Johns | Elisabeth Deom | Betty Franklin | Rod Bartlett | Alan Jonason | Jerri WilkinsPresentationoligocene chimaeroid fish, chondrichthyes, holocephali, chimaeriformes, carmanah group, west coast vancouver island

Workshops (hands-on and demonstrations) are scheduled for Friday, June 9th. Pre-registration for workshops is required. Further details of workshops will be provided as they are finalized. Additional fees may apply, to be confirmed when online registration opens. Workshops under development include:

    • Sutures, Septas and Siphuncles: Identifying Ammonites with Ease

      If you want to know your Bostrychoceras from your Glyptoxoceras, this workshop’s for you! Ammonites are the most abundant fossil cephalopods on the planet. With over 1,500 recorded genera and 10,000 species, identification can be daunting. In this 2-hour, hands-on workshop, BCPA Chair Dan Bowen will share tips and tricks for ammonite identification including basic terminology, morphology and key diagnostic characteristics as they relate to the most common ammonites found in BC. Test your new-found skills on workshop specimens, or bring your own specimens for practice.

      The first half of the workshop will be a PowerPoint presentation of over 30 different species of ammonites, including two species of nautilus from the Upper Cretaceous of Vancouver Island. In the second half of the presentation, we will do a hands on identification exercise with the participants.

      • The Aura is in the Flora*: Identifying Cretaceous plant compression fossils

        Do you feel a little intimidated and dismayed when you look at your box of unidentified Cretaceous plant fossils? No worries. With a little botany and a few (provided) research papers, you will be on your way to filling in those nasty gaps in your fossil collection inventory.

        Upper Cretaceous plant leaf compression fossils are found at a number of sites on Vancouver Island, and may number almost 90 species (Bell 1957). These fossils will be the main focus of the workshop led by Joe Morin of the Vancouver Island Paleontological Society.

        The first half of the workshop is a Powerpoint presentation. There will be a brief review of the main plant families, in particular the families we are likely to collect locally. Regretfully, there will need to be a short segment on the Classification of Dicotyledonous Leaf Architecture. Phew! We will also briefly review the important but easy cellulose acetate peel technique, and finish the Powerpoint with a Lower Cretaceous leaf case study.

        The second half of the workshop will be a hands-on leaf identification party! Joe will have on hand a number of his local Cretaceous fossil leaves to examine. We will work in groups, choose any of the leaves, and work through the process to identify. Do not hesitate to bring along your own fossil leaves instead! Also bring along a small flashlight and a good magnifying glass if possible.

        Note* If “The Data is in the Strata” Ray Troll, paleontological theorem #1, then axiomatically “The Aura is in the Flora”

Have an idea for a workshop, or want to offer one? Your suggestions or leadership offers are welcome. Budget is available to cover associated costs (e.g., materials, guidebooks). If interested, please contact us: To assist with administration, please state the following in your email title:

    • “R/E Workshop Option”.

Tours are planned for Friday, June 9th.  The following tours are free. Pre-registration is required:

The intent is for tours to be no charge, if and where possible.

Field Trips

Three fieldtrips are scheduled for Monday, June 12th. Pre-registration is required.  Departures and details to be provided closer to the date.  Fieldtrips are weather dependent.  If cancelled, refunds will be issued.

Fieldtrip 1:  The Collision Zone Beach Tour – with Marji Johns

The Cenozoic Carmanah Group sedimentary basin at the collision zone between the Wrangellian, Pacific Rim and Crescent terranes (west coast of Vancouver  Island): How paleontology helped to unravel this geological history.  This all-day tour (approx. 13 hrs) will take you on a very scenic coastal trip with views (on a clear day) of the Olympic Mountains across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Visitors will learn from Marji Johns, retired BC micropaleontologist & geoscientist, about the geological evolution of the SW west coast of  Vancouver Island with a specific focus on the Carmanah Group (CG) sediments (~36–25 Ma) and two island (Pacific Rim and Crescent) terrane collisions with Vancouver Island (Wrangellia). It will includes stops at several sites along the way. The sites are all within parks, therefore fossil collecting is not permitted.

Participants must be capable of hiking several kilometres along rocky shorelines and trails. Transportation, box lunch/snacks, water and field guide will be supplied. 

Fieldtrip 2:  Muir Creek Research Tour

The Cenozoic Carmanah Group (Muller et al. 1981) is also exposed at Muir Creek, located just over an hour from Victoria.  Here you will find exposures of the Sooke Formation, which is the youngest component of the Tertiary sediments along southwestern British Columbia in the Carmanah Group. The exact age of the Formation is estimated to be approximately 25M years (late Oligocene)  based largely on the abundant mulluscan fauna and microscopic fossils called foraminifers.  A comprehensive study of the Sooke Formation fossils (collected mostly in the Muir Creek area) was by Clark and Arnold (1923).  Conservative and selective collecting along this stretch of public beach is permitted.  Participants must be capable of walking on uneven ground. Transportation, box lunch/snacks, water and field guide will be supplied. 

Fieldtrip 3: Chemainus River

Cliffs along the deep canyon of the Chemainus River expose the grey, fossiliferous concretionary mudstones and siltstones of the Haslam Formation.  Evidence provided by foraminifera, trace fossils, and macrofossils suggests deposition of these sediments took place in marine outer shelf and upper slope environments during late Santonian to early Campanian time. This shallow sea environment was populated by molluscs, fishes, and giant marine reptiles. Some fossils, such as clams and snails, are similar to modern relatives. Others, such as the extinct ammonites, have no modern counterpart. This provides an excellent opportunity to explore changing life and environment over geological time. Participants must be capable of climbing moderate inclines and fording streams. Transportation, box lunch/snacks, water and field guide will be supplied. 


The Bob Wright Centre, University of Victoria School of Earth & Ocean Sciences is the main venue for the symposium. It is located at 9882 Ring Rd at the University of Victoria (map below). The following will take place at the Bob Wright Centre, School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria:

  • Presentations
  • Poster displays
  • Fossil displays
  • Workshops
  • Tours of paleontology-related technology at the University of Victoria

Find out about getting here.


Saturday evening Awards Dinner is included in the registration fee; for planning purposes, pre-registration is required.  Additional tickets are available for purchase should you have guests. Dinner will provide an opportunity to relax, mingle and recognize the contributions of non-professionals to the advancement of paleontology in BC.

A silent auction will take place during the Awards Dinner. Details as to bidding on items offered will be forthcoming as the dinner approaches. Meanwhile, please check out the growing list of silent auction items from our generous supporters.


The Rene Savenye Award honours an amateur paleontologist who has demonstrated outstanding service to the science of paleontology or to paleontological education in British Columbia. It is awarded periodically, by nomination. If you would like to nominate a non-professional for this award, please review previous award recipients Rene Savenye Award ( and contact the BC Paleontological Alliance at Contact Us (

Health & Safety

The conference is planned to be in-person only. The planning committee is paying close attention to guidelines from the BC Provincial Government and the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) regarding gatherings and events. Should restrictions related to events, vaccination, and/or masks be reinstated, we will adapt our plans accordingly. We recommend all attendees be vaccinated and boosted, and request attendees self-monitor for symptoms and self-test prior to arrival. Please do not attend if you have a positive test, or if you develop symptoms associated with COVID-19. We strongly encourage all attendees to consider wearing a mask when in proximity to others.




The time period in which to submit abstracts has now closed.

Abstracts for oral presentations and posters should be no longer than 500 words excluding title, author(s)’s name(s), address and email address. Photographs and other graphics are encouraged and will be printed in the Abstracts booklet associated with the abstract description. Please respect copyrighted material and obtain permission to use where applicable.

Abstracts should be submitted by 11:59 PST, Mar. 18, 2023.

The duration of each talk and its follow-up Q&A will be decided once the full program is established.


The time period in which to submit posters has now closed.

Poster dimensions should not exceed 4 feet by 4 feet (122 cm x 122 cm). Display boards and pins will be provided. Posters are to be mounted beginning Friday morning, 8:00 am June 9th, and mounted no later than 10:00 am on Saturday, June 10th. Posters can be taken down at the end of the talks on Sunday June 11th .


Step 1: 

Please review the information on this website (workshops, tours, field trips, etc.) prior to registering. Pre-registration for all activities (free and paid) is required for planning purposes.

Step 2:

Please register using this form. Earlybird (discounted) registration ends March 3!

Further events may be added; periodically check this site to ensure you don’t miss out!


Secure space is available to showcase fossil collections. Please contact or 250-812-3970 if interested. To assist administration, please put the following in the subject line:

  • R/E Fossil Display



Date Deadline for…
February 2, 2023 General registration opens. Register here.
March 18, 2023 Abstracts due
March 3, 2023 Last day for early (discounted) registration discounts
March 28, 2023 Confirm intent to display fossils
April 1, 2023 Rene Savenye award nominations due
April 15, 2023 Registration closes
June 9, 2023 Mounting of posters and displays; set up begins 8 am.


Travel & Accommodations

Registrants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation.

Victoria has a wide array of hotels, motels, and Airbnb locations, and UVic has ample student and visitor accommodation on campus (including some new facilities), with food services and parking (see Tourist influx will be growing in early June so early bookings are advisable; less pressure should be present for on-campus accommodation.

The UVic website provides several campus maps (e.g.,

UVic is located on the north-east side of Victoria, an approximate 15-20 minute drive/bus from downtown. If not using your own mode of transportation, the city bus system has several routes servicing UVic (e.g., The Evo car share operates in Victoria, with parking available at UVic for vehicles from the Evo Victoria “home zone”.

Victoria is serviced from Vancouver by BC Ferries and an international airport north of the city. The Coho ferry brings visitors and their vehicles to Victoria from Port Angeles, Washington, while the Clipper ferry provides a passenger service between Seattle and Victoria.


Step 1: 

Please review the information on this website (workshops, tours, field trips, etc.) prior to registering. Pre-registration for all activities (free and paid) is required for planning purposes.

Step 2:

Please register using this form. Earlybird (discounted) registration ends March 3!

Further events may be added; periodically check this site to ensure you don’t miss out!


The Symposium is financed through Society membership dues and donations. Offers of support are welcomed and encouraged to make this event the best experience possible. Details below. To discuss sponsorship, contact:, or call Jerri Wilkins, 250-812-3970.

Sponsorship opportunities include:

  • Keynote Speakers – supplement travel and accommodation of keynote speakers travelling thousands of miles, primarily at their own expense, to participate in the Symposium.
  • Friday Social – an evening mix & mingle to kick off the Symposium, traditionally featuring music, appetizers and beverage service. Sponsorship can support space rental, food service, or both.
  • Nutrition Breaks – 4 breaks are offered over two days. Sponsor one, or all.
  • Lunch – currently, registration does not include lunch on Saturday & Sunday. Both could be sponsored events, provided onsite or at university food service options without walking distance.
  • Awards Dinner – Sponsorship can include covering venue rental, or sponsoring a table (food service costs), or all food service costs.
  • Poster Displays – Have company name, logo and provided materials displayed prominently entering and exiting the poster display area.
  • Workshops/Fieldtrips – cover costs of workshop materials, or fieldtrip costs such as
    transportation and lunches.

Sponsorship includes recognition in advertising, social media posts and printed symposium materials, as well as name association with the specific event sponsored (e.g., The xx Fieldtrip, brought to you by (company name). Sponsorship is flexible and can accommodate materials provided by the sponsor. To discuss options and costs contact:, or call Jerri Wilkins, 250-812-3970.


Planning committee members:

Special Thanks to Advisors & Volunteers:

  • Sandy McLachlan & Fran Benton – logo and artwork
  • Tom Celuszak – website and social media
  • Justin Bauer – registration
  • Perry Poon, John Fam, Laura Termes & Kirsten Brink of the Vancouver Palaeontological Society for their thoughtful advice and wisdom developed from planning previous symposia